Council wants to end unexplained roadworks

Under the agreement, signs would be erected to explain works. Picture: Jayne Emsley

Under the agreement, signs would be erected to explain works. Picture: Jayne Emsley

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Unexplained roadworks across Edinburgh would become a thing of the past under a series of pledges that city chiefs want all utility companies to sign.

In a bid to relieve the motorists’ frustrations, firms such as Scottish Water and BT Openreach would be required to put up signs explaining why sections of road remained shut to traffic and pedestrians.

Utilities would have to reopen roads and pavements to the public at the earliest opportunity under the binding agreement, which has been put out for public consultation.

Other commitments include companies setting up information boards at shut sites to explain the reason for any extension to a road closure. They will also be forced to detail why visible works are not happening at a cordoned-off site. All reported road defects would have to be posted on a street works register published on the council’s website.

A five-year programme of potential works across the Capital would also be demanded to help with city planning.

The conditions will be part of the new Edinburgh Road Works Ahead Agreement, which is expected to be approved in March. Fines would be issued to companies that did not comply, although the council was unable to confirm the size of the penalties.

City transport convener Lesley Hinds said: “This is for utility companies to sign, so they get the work done, they’re out, and they make a proper job of it as quickly as possible.

“We only want them to put up temporary lights when they have to. That’s what causes the backlog in terms of traffic. They will also need to get approval unless it’s an emergency. We want the least disruption possible.”

Cllr Hinds stressed that updating the 2008 agreement was not connected to the public angst that surrounded the £776 million trams project.

Scottish Gas, Vodafone, Virgin Media and ScottishPower would also be asked to sign the document.

A total of 607 fines were issued to utility companies in 2012-13 under the old agreement. Scottish Water was the worst culprit, accounting for 582 of all 697 defects in Edinburgh at the end of that financial year.

A spokesman said Scottish Water always tried to keep roadworks to a “minimum”.

He added: “As a significant investor in the infrastructure of Edinburgh, we are discussing the agreement with the council and other utilities, and look forward to playing our part in helping keep the city moving.”